Learning Lovely Letters at First Thursday on Main!

By: Sydney Yarbrough

When I heard about the opportunity to take a calligraphy class with Stefanie Stroman, I was ecstatic. I remember back in elementary school when my friends and I would compete to see who could write their name the prettiest. Flash forward to today and calligraphy is everywhere from envelopes to business logos! I’ve always wanted to learn the art of calligraphy, so I was excited that there is now a chance to learn here in Columbia.

Learning calligraphy

The class took place at First Citizen’s Café during their monthly First Thursday event. Our class was small, which was great because it allowed us to all chat and help each other. It also allowed our instructor, Stefanie, to walk around and give each of us individual instruction. She was extremely helpful in teaching us technique and answering all of our questions.

Learning calligraphy

I have to talk about her decorations, because the details were fabulous! There was lots of gold and glitter, which was consistent throughout the entire class. We also had some patriotic themed cupcakes for an early 4th of July celebration!

Learning calligraphy

She equipped us with everything we needed to get started- a practice notepad, as well as calligraphy writing supplies (pen staff, nibs, and ink). I loved that even though we were learning modern calligraphy, we were still using the traditional technique of dipping the pens into the ink. She also gave us an easy to follow instruction booklet that took us through the entire alphabet!

Learning calligraphyThe class was two hours long and was so relaxing. I was amazed to find how meditative the art of calligraphy actually is! And, to my surprise, I wasn’t terrible at it! Stefanie also supplied us with some recommended reading and resources to further research advanced calligraphy. I can’t wait to learn more about it!

Learning calligraphy

 

I highly recommend taking this class. It would be a great activity for a Girls’ Night Out or even if you’re just looking to try something new!

Learning calligraphy

Interested in taking Calligraphy 101? The next class is August 7th at First Citizens Café! You can visit the Stroman Studios Etsy Shop for more information and to sign up for your class! 

Credit: All of the amazing photos in this blog courtesy of Sarah Christmus Photography! (Thanks, Sarah!) 

 

South Carolina’s Hidden Gems

By: Crissie Miller Kirby

As you have no doubt come to realize, the boys and I do a good bit of traveling to the Lowcountry.  A self proclaimed history buff (okay, nerd), I like to share my love of times gone by with the boys while we are also making memories.  One of the activities that I love to do with the boys (and anyone else who will go along for the ride) is to share some of the hidden historical gems that South Carolina has to offer.  Like gold or gems long hidden from the naked or untrained eye, these places are ripe with beauty, history, and emotion.  Please indulge me, if you will, as I share two of our more recent discoveries.

Fort Fremont

Tucked away on a narrow dirt road on Saint Helena Island lies a fortification that, until recent years, was almost an unknown.  One day late last summer my in-laws and I decided to take a little ride over to Beaufort and head out to Saint Helena and to Fort Fremont.  Over the last few years, the Friends of Fort Fremont Historical Park has been formed and extensive work has been done revitalizing the fortifications and cleaning up the area around the fort to include fencing and beach access areas.

Fort Fremont

The first time I visited Fort Fremont was probably ten or twelve years ago and I’m not even sure that we should have been on the grounds.  Abandoned and covered in graffiti, it was a little bit unnerving and probably a little more than scary. With my vivid – and sometimes exaggerated – imagination, I remember thinking that it was just the type of place where someone would take someone to harm them or to conduct some type of scary initiation/ritual.  Today it is a great place to go visit and learn a little bit of South Carolina history.

Fort Fremont

The Friends of Fort Fremont has a fantastic website where you can gain tons of information on the history of the fort, visiting the fort, and making donations should you want to help preserve a part of not only our state’s rich history, but also that of the United States.

Old Sheldon Church

Another favorite spot that I like to visit, even when I am alone, is the ruins of the Old Sheldon Church in Yemassee.  Set among massive Spanish moss-covered oaks, the ruins consist of the red brick columns and portions of the walls.  The church has borne witness to the bulk of United States’ history having been first constructed in the mid-1700’s.  After being burned during the Revolutionary War, it was rebuilt during the 1820’s.  However, the Civil War and General William T. Sherman proved too much for the hallowed grounds, and after being burned once more, the ruins and grounds were left unrepaired; a monument to times gone by.

Old Sheldon Church

Today, the grounds are well maintained (by the Parish Church of St. Helena) and are open during daylight hours for visitors to tour.  It is still considered sacred ground and much can be learned by walking the grounds and viewing the headstones of those who have been buried there.  An Easter service is held each year and weddings can also be held on the grounds with appropriate approval from the aforementioned church.

I love to walk the grounds and just be alone with my thoughts.  When the boys are with me, I love to share with them the history and see their faces as they try and drink from the old hand pump on the grounds.  Even more, I love when, months later, they ask questions about these places that we have visited; sometimes they even ask to visit again. And I long for the days and times when we can yet again search out and uncover these South Carolina gems, and those yet to be uncovered.

What are your favorite South Carolina gems?

Kale Chronicles

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

kale

Earlier in the summer, I planted 3 kale plants. Several people questioned me about this.

“Isn’t it too hot here for kale?”

“Isn’t it really hard to grow?”

“How are you going to get that to work?”

Well, here we are mid-July and my tomatoes are over 7’ tall and producing next to nothing, my cucumbers are producing nothing but flowers, my zucchini is just toying with me as it slowly commits suicide, and the poblanos just flower away and laugh at the thought of actually putting out a pepper. But, my little kale plants just keep growing and growing and growing!

A few days ago, it was time to harvest again and from those three little plants, I got a gracious helping of fresh kale. Usually I just make kale chips for myself because every other time I’ve tried a dish involving kale, the husband and little one reject it. I’d pretty much just resigned myself to the belief that I am the sole kale consumer in this house. However, I stood there gazing at this beautiful, tender, fresh home-grown loveliness and thought, “How crazy is this? One of planet Earth’s superfoods and I’m the only one eating it? Not today.”

I’ve written before about one of the most awesome cookbooks in my collection, “How to Cook Without a Book” by Pam Anderson. I can’t remember where I found this book, but I truly love it and I recommend it highly. As you have surely gathered from the title, the point is to teach some basic recipes and techniques so that you can incorporate these standards into your regular life without having to put much thought into it. I often go here for inspiration and fresh ideas. On this day, I pulled the book out because Ms. Anderson has included numerous variations to the theme for each of her basic recipes. So for lunch, I turned our kale harvest into a simple pasta with leafy greens, bacon and crushed red pepper. I told no one what the greens were. I simply said, “Here honey, have some pasta” and down the hatch it went! I have been on a conscious quest to get more dark leafies into our household diet, so this was a big win.

If you don’t know much about kale, I’ll say this: it’s really, insanely good for you. If you’re like me and want to eat more of it and its other dark leafy cousins, you can get all the info you want online. Or, here’s another of my favorite cookbooks you may wish to seek out, “Leafy Greens” by Mark Bittman.

Elizabeth Akre is the author of “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef)”. Read, comment & be merry!  You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook.

Puttin’ On My Face

By: Lydia Scott

I’ve never liked being in front of a camera, which is why I make myself do it. My job needs it, my hobbies need it, my confidence needs it. I got made fun of a LOT as a kid, and my first marriage reinforced that same confidence-killing concept, so I spend time trying to reverse 35 years of damage. Now, I try to take pictures instead of running from them. Still hate it though, hahaha! And I can see, as a 42-year-old woman, my face is starting to really show how much character it’s loaded with. Add to that the fact that it used to be poofed up with 145 lbs more of soft chubbiness, well…the wrinkles are peaking. I see my face changing. Okay, fine…we can deal with that, right?

But I also see my make-up making the lines of time look worse. Aww heck naw, y’all!! Can’t have that. Who wants to look MORE tired than you are or MORE weathered than you do with nekkid skin? Not this chick. I enjoy trying to look polished, but not because I’m an old shoe. I like my outside to at least kinda reflect some of the inside, ya know?

SELFIES

I recently took a good look at some selfies and at the mirror, and realized my make-up needed an update. The type of eyeliner, application, and face make-up weren’t doing me any favors. And I needed favors! So I appealed to my beautiful and knowledgeable friends for suggestions. I also told them I don’t believe in pricy make-up, so if I can’t buy it at Target or CVS, it ain’t gonna happen. And they didn’t let me down! They gave me some great product and application tips, and I’m going to share the ones I tried, plus a couple I went out on a limb with. I didn’t include mascara or lipstick in this update because I didn’t change anything. I stuck with the Maybelline Big Eyes Falsies mascara, and my Victoria’s Secret lip-gloss with a tiny smudge of rose lip liner.

My favorites

My favorites

EYE LINER

Of course, black liner is no longer my friend. Instead, gray, brown, bronze, taupe, and plum seem to be much better selections for my middle-aged, fair-and-cool-tone skin, dark hair, and brown/hazel eyes. Suggestions included Urban Decay liner pencils, shadow sticks used as liner, Wet N Wild pencils (surprisingly good!), and gel liners.

What I tried: L’Oreal Infallible 24 Hour gel liner in Bronze. I have super sensitive eyes. I can’t get anything even a little moist (pen or liquid liners) in my eyes, so gel made me nervous. But you know me and my crazy risk-taking antics!!

Verdict: Holy smokes, it’s awesome!!! Put just a little on the paintbrush that comes with it and you get a softer look. Put more on the brush for a heavier look. It stays put with no irritation. Score!

EYE SHADOW

I never seem to be happy with eye shadow, so getting a recommendation from a photographer who works with a bunch of models was gold for me. She suggested the L’Oreal Infallible 24 Hour eye shadows, with a focus on soft pink and brown.

What I tried: I got a few pots in soft pink, cocoa, and amber. I also picked up a set of eye shadow brushes. A lot of their colors are super glittery, so I used a little of the glitter and more of the creamy matte, and I got a nice blend.

Verdict: These do not disappear as the day wears on, you don’t need more than one swipe to get great color, and there’s no creasing! I really love the quality, the price (around $7 each), the color selection, and that they don’t irritate my eyes.

Facelift magic: Another trick I learned was using eyeshadow base. For fair-toned skin, look for an illuminating oyster color dry cream that’s basically like creamy eyeshadow. It primes your lid for the shadow so it goes on smooth and the colors pop a little more and stay on longer. The big trick I was taught though, was to swipe it under my eye, under the eyelash line from corner to corner. I even took it a little further down close to the dark circles I swear I don’t have. *Cough* Trust me. Do it. Instant facelift, or at worst you’ll like you had a great night’s sleep. I bought the tube of Rimmel Eyeshadow Primer, and it’s very nice, and not super glittery. (Do you see a pattern here?) NYC also sells an eye shadow set that includes a base and an illuminator. I got the one for brown eyes to try it out. The illuminator works decently as an eye shadow base. The shadows don’t stay on very well, but it’s not a bad set for the few bucks it costs`!

My new look

My new look

FACE

I also decided to use a liquid foundation instead of sticking with my lifelong devotion to powders and powder foundations. The powders were not laying on my skin right anymore. They were starting to make the wrinkles stand out and my skin look more haggard. I never liked cream or liquid foundations because every single one made my pores noticeable. But now, I just felt like my skin needs the creaminess.

What I tried: Being in the L’Oreal section already, I happened to see that L’Oreal now had a line of make-up to go with that sample tube of Invisible Lift Blur eye cream I found several weeks ago and loved. Okay, I thought, let’s give it a whirl! So, in the Invisible Lift make-up section, I bought the tube of foundation, the tube of correcting concealer for eyes with the cold rollerball at the tip, and the tube of blush. Admittedly, blush in a tube was a little scary, but again, that daredevil in me just told me to go for it! I also bought the True Match powder, because ya know…powder sets it all! But just a little. I also bought a set of those make-up sponges to use to smooth all the creamy goop over my skin because somebody somewhere said it made it work better. Might as well go for the gusto!

Verdict: Oh Em Gee. OH EM GEE. I am actually impressed at how smoothly it all went on, and how close to flawless it looked when done. No crazy pore dots showing through, either! The blush looked fluorescent until I rubbed it in (yes, fluorescent!), and then it was fresh and dewy! And I didn’t feel like I was wearing a cloak of armor over my skin either. And indeed, the sponge did seem to make a difference! Happy happy happy!

My new look

My new look

So, I’m pretty happy with my friends’ suggestions, because they helped me feel a little less frumpy and grumpy. That’s what friends are for!

Graze: Snacking Reinvented

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Don’t you just love it when things come together just right? A while back, I posted information about my favorite subscription box from Greatist. Sadly, the subscription box service was recently discontinued. In a seemingly unrelated matter, I experienced a new challenge in my ongoing quest to eat clean and healthy: a lack of good, healthy and low-calorie snacks. Then, faster than you could say “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo,” came Graze, a new subscription box that features healthy snacks and solves both of my problems!

Graze

Quite simply, Graze delivers tasty, healthy snacks by mail for just $6 a box. Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose the foods you want. You check out the selection of foods that could appear in your box and rate them as trash, try, like or love. With the Nibble Box, there are over 90 choices; with the Calorie Counter Box, which features snacks with 150 calories or less, there are over 50 choices.
  2. Tell Graze where to send your box. Since I have a hard time finding and/or packing good snacks for the work week, I have mine sent to the office.
  3. Graze mails your box via USPS weekly or every other week, a choice you make when you sign up. I chose weekly because I need snacks on a weekly basis, and $6 for healthy, portion controlled snacks is a deal and a half!
  4. You enjoy your snacks! Graze promises that their snacks contain no genetically modified ingredients, artificial flavors or colors, high fructose corn syrup or trans fats.

I’m a couple of weeks into my Graze subscription, and I love it! It’s convenient, inexpensive and delicious. And every box I receive is a special treat especially for me!

Commitment shy? You can try a one-time box without having a subscription. And if you subscribe and find it’s not for you, you can cancel with no penalty.

Christmas in July

By: Leah Prescott

Christmas in JulyI am not sure who started the “Christmas in July” trend. I assume it was some kind of retailer just looking to boost their summer sales, but I’d like to go on record by formerly endorsing Christmas in July as a fantastic idea. By mid-summer things are really heating up here in South Carolina; kids are getting bored, mamas are getting cranky. December is a season that many of us look forward to all year long, but the holidays can also be a remarkably stressful time for many families. Using July as a time to plan ahead for the holidays is a great way to keep the angst down and enjoy the Peace & Joy once December actually rolls around. Here are some ways I am hoping to make this happen for my family:

  1. Organize Gift Lists. Many of you true planners started doing this in January and I commend you (and sort of hate you). For the rest of us, there is still time to get great deals on thoughtful gifts without wandering the aisles of Target in a panic on December 23rd. (Not that I’ve ever done that.) Check out The Christmas Gift List (free in the App Store) if you want a countdown to December 25th while also keeping track of what you have or have not purchased. If you have a gift in mind and want to find a deal, try setting up a free account at www.slickdeals.net where you can set deal alerts for keywords such as “Tickle Me Elmo” or “Cabbage Patch Doll.” The website will email you when these words appear in posts compiled from contributors across the web. No excuses for throwing together last minute baskets of bath and body products or handing someone a gift card with a bow on it. Unless that’s what you really want to buy them, in which case, by all means go ahead.
  2. Budget your time, ahead of time. If your goal for the holidays is to run around like a chicken with its head cut off, then full speed ahead. I can give you home videos of me circa 2008 for tips. But if you’d prefer to have a softer, slower holiday, there are steps you can take to keep things a little more laid back. Start by making a list of goals for the holidays. Rather than focus on tasks to be accomplished, think about the overall picture you want to create. My list includes things like: more quality time with family, less focus on “stuff,” sharing meals with neighbors, visiting friends, giving to those in need. When creating your list, you may realize there are things that should be dropped from your yearly agenda. Holiday cards are fun, but if making and sending them is cutting into family time, this might be the year to share a Facebook greeting and let the snail mail slide. No one will judge you. Or at least they shouldn’t.
  3.  It’s always Christmas on Pinterest. My point is, if you want to make everyone on your list a Mason Jar Snow globe, or create elaborate holiday decorations from coffee filters, or finally bake the perfect carrot cake from scratch (this is the one you want- AMAZING) now is the time start pinning those recipes and tutorials. It’s such a bummer when the ideal project idea pops up on Instagram on December 26th and you realize that you should have made it. I am just trying to spare you this pain! This past year we made a lot of crafts for friends and family members and it was so much fun. The fact that we started early kept it stress-free. I tell myself, if I start pinning ideas now, it will give me time to shop for supplies, conduct a trial run, and accommodate all the mistakes and miscalculations I will undoubtedly encounter. If you’d like projects that the kids can help create, take a look at http://martha.ms/1skRyuW.
  4. Pre-post-holiday Dieting. That’s right, I mean eat healthy now. Rather than facing the holidays with pounds to lose, why not get ahead of the game by changing up your eating habits or adding a new exercise class to beat the January blues before they happen? There is plenty of time to make progress towards improving your health, and you’ll have yet another reason to celebrate once the party season starts. Once you have made progress it will be easier to moderate over the holidays. I started a new diet a few months ago and I am determined not to let things slide, so that I can have control going into November. I have used www.myfitnesspal.com and the My Fitness Pal App. It combines calorie counting with social media to help you meet diet and fitness goals. I have had great luck with it in the past and you can get your friends to join you, making it fun like Facebook (well, sort of).

In December 2013 I made a radical (and fairly spontaneous) decision NOT TO SHOP over the holiday season. I realized that my hobby of recreational shopping was cutting into time with my kids, putting stress on my relationship with my husband and jeopardizing our budget as well. December seemed like the perfect time to put all that aside and really focus on the true meaning of this special season. It was hard for me to stop shopping and there were some tricky logistical issues (did I forget my sister’s wedding was in January? Hello, shoes, gifts, accessories?). But I definitely achieved my goal of having less stress, less spending, and less focus on STUFF, and the results were much better than I imagined. The bottom line is, for our family, a December without shopping was a great choice. I’m not suggesting that everyone quit shopping in December. Instead I am saying that you can take control of the holidays by changing the game plan. You can write the story you want to tell next year and now is the time to start.

Only 162 days to go!

LMC Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Doula Program

Lexington Medical Center has a history of innovative firsts for women’s services. It was the first hospital in the Midlands to allow husbands in the delivery room, give epidurals
and offer Doulas to women in labor. In fact, Lexington Medical Center is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Doula program this year!

A doula is a birth coach who offers mothers comfort and reassurance during labor and delivery. In 1994, Lexington Medical Center began an innovative Doula program that was the first-of-its-kind in the Southeast. The program has received national recognition and serves as a benchmark for programs around the country. Thanks to support from the Lexington Medical Center Foundation and its donors, Doulas are a free service for any woman having a baby at Lexington Medical Center.

“Lexington Medical Center’s Doulas have been invaluable to the women of the Midlands,” said Nydia Harter, MSN, RN, NEA, BC, director of Nursing at Lexington Medical Center. “Over the past 20 years, they have supported thousands of women and families during one of the most important times of their lives – the birth of their babies.”

Doulas are experienced professionals who undergo training specific to assisting pregnant women and newborns. In addition to understanding the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of women in labor, Doulas also facilitate communication between parents-to-be, help prepare birth plans and provide information about birth and delivery options. Postpartum Doulas offer education, support and assistance to the new family. A Doula brings much-needed confidence to a new mother through breastfeeding support and advice, newborn care and assistance with household duties.

The Lexington Medical Center Foundation sponsors the hospital’s Doula program. LMC’s Doula program is based on the highest standards of care set by Doulas of North America (DONA), the largest doula association in the world.

Lexington Medical Center’s innovative Doula program has earned the prestigious Annie Kennedy Award from DONA. The award recognizes LMC Doulas for excellence and dedication to their community as well as growth and teamwork in their program.

Doulas

Doulas

Lexington Medical Center has 16 Doulas on staff and almost half of the Doulas have been with LMC for ten years or more. Since the LMC Doula program began, it has assisted more than 8,400 families.

Lexington Medical Center will recognize Lexington Medical Center’s past and present Doulas at a special reception on July 29th on the hospital campus. Former Doulas can contact the Lexington Medical Center Foundation at 791-2540 for more information on the event.

Doulas

To learn more about LMC’s Doula program, visit this link on the hospital’s website, http://bit.ly/1qrAIXl, or Lexington Medical Center’s Facebook page.

For information on training to become a doula, visit www.dona.org.